Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Alex Ronald - Lawd of the Rants!

Digital maestro Alex Ronald absolutely knocks it out of the park again with this brilliant, brilliant cover for Prog 1897. Of course, the image shows the nasty bastard Lawlords who have finally made their move on Mega-City One, nob heads.
This cover is SO good that Clint Langley got in touch to say "I would like to say a piece regarding Alex Ronald's cover which I think is incredible! I would be privileged to praise this incredible work. I was blown away by this cover, it is an amazing work which should be shown a lot of respect as it is quite brilliant!" Preaching to the coverted there Clint, but it's great to see an artist praising another artists work!
Over to Alex to tell us more...
"Here was the brief from Tharg: "The return of the Lawlords - alien villains Dredd encountered in the story 'Lawcon' years ago. They appear on a big screen in MC-1 so I was thinking of a big shot of the screen showing the Lawlord's face, with some cityscape elements around it?"

"Tharg supplied lots of reference from the original story LawCon plus Paul Marshall's reveal shot from Cascade. I'd missed LawCon at it's original release (2002?) so tracked down the Meg issues and read it over to get a handle on who these villains were."
Looks like someone didn't listen...
Yuck! That Law Lord has a very heavy cold. Someone pass him a tissue...

"THIS is how I eat an apple!"

"Initially I was struggling with how to make this look dramatic. I was dealing with an image on a flat screen and I was worried that the whole image was in danger of looking a bit 'flat' "
"My first B/W rough used a large flat screen and right enough I just wasn't buying it. I looked to Blade Runner for some ideas but although the huge building screen has some nice perspective on it, it's not the focal point of the image."
 "I'm Tits McGee!"

Speed cameras of the future. 
"The penny dropped when I was looking through some images of neon signs and saw Piccadilly Circus. That was it. Stick the screen on a curved building with a low angle looking up. Nothing's flat lots of perspective , job done :)"
 Brit-Cit circa 1998

Ooooh, those curved screens make you pile the pounds on... 

"I approached this cover as two separate paintings, the TV screen image and the city environment.
First of all I composed the city scene in 3D using customised pieces and pre existing blocks.
The screen was just a large curved polygon with a UV map so that any image applied to it would appear on the video as a display."

Bah, the telly's on the blink again.

"The Lawlords were sculpted in Z Brush based on Paul Marshall and Richard Elson's art. The helmet crease lines (which feature in the art) were exaggerated slightly so that it would catch the light more.
I saw these bullet shaped helmets as highly polished, almost chrome like and tried to convey that as best as possible. I kept thinking that these aliens looked very like the super hero Action Man figure from the 70's..."

Brrr, I bet it's freezing when he goes for a slash. 

Rusty Bullet Man

"The TV image was painted up and then I applied some pre-existing overlays, complete with scan lines and interference bands which hopefully give the whole thing a video display look."

"The video display was then applied to the large screen in the city set. The last part of the 3D process was to export the foreground, middle and background elements as flats into Photoshop. After a few hours of painting texture, shadow and applying lots of lighting overlays the image is pretty much there..."


 Anne Robinson has really let herself go.

"Hope you like it :)"

We absolutely LOVE it Alex, universal praise from everyone who's seen it!

If you like Alex's work, then please rush out and buy this month's Heavy Metal Magazine (issue 270) as it features Alex's brilliant graphic novel 'Vampire Vixens of the Wehrmacht.' If you haven't already read it, I can promise it's one of the best comics you could ever read!

Don't mess with Smurfette

Below we can see the printed version of the cover which features a dramatic Speech Bubble, extra points to Tharg!
Those poor cits pay their TRI-D licence for that!?!
Massive thanks to Alex for sending the images and fascinating blurb. Here's hoping we get another visual treat from him soon!

Monday, 25 August 2014

A Proper Gander at the Jaegir One Shot Cover.

August 27th sees the release of the scrotnig Jaegir One Shot. The comic collects Strigoi, the debut series of Kapitan-Inspector Atalia Jaegir of the Nordland State Community Police. In this first arc, Jager is drafted into the Office of Genetic Purity to help hunt genetically mutated monsters known as the Strigoi.

It's a fabulous read, with a nasty script by Rogue Trooper fan Gordon Rennie, wonderful art by Simon Coleby and a gorgeous palate by Len O'Grady.

The cover is really striking so I got in touch with design wiz Pye Parr to find out more. He said "The art first came about after Molcher and Gordon came up with a rough idea for a promo campaign for Jaegir when it first ran in 2000 AD. Gordon and Simon were keen to avoid spoilering a few things - namely that the main character was female, but also that she was one of the Bad-guys, so Simon did some awesome teaser art in the style of an old soviet propaganda poster, and I continued the theme with some designery quote posters, which teased the background of the story quite well without revealing any specifics about it..."

Here's Simon Coleby's "Why don't we do something like this?" marker rough:

Well, I wouldn't bother after Season 1 if I were them...

And his more refined comp...

The Wilf Gasmask Appreciation Society annual gathering poster.

Which is made up of linework...

The creator looks on at the Banzai Battalion prototypes...

And tone...

The Kubaz from Star Wars joins the Norts?

Put 'em together and what have you got? Bippetyboppetynu-earth.

Whiiite eyes, burning like fiiire - sob!

Here's Pye's Promo Poster based on the image...

Some very Norty boys

And his, quote, 'Designery quote posters!"

"Rogue has only got one ball."
Traitor General 

Pye continues "After that we decided to put out Jaegir as one-shot US-format comic, and the poster art was so cool it seemed a shame not to use it again, especially as not a lot of the readers would have seen it before, having never run in the Prog. I had to tweak it a little bit from the poster to fit with a cover layout (mainly just enlarging/centring the main guy...)

"Ya Doktor, I appear to have a tank coming out of my groin..."

"I even managed to reuse the layout for the quotes posters on the title page (which was nice, as I was quite pleased with them too)."

Dammit, everything about the Norts was way cooler the Southers. That insignia is great!

Be sure to report to the 2000AD shop and pre-order this one shot now citizen before officers from the Nordland Office of Nasty Bastards pay you a visit. Nu-Earth sized thanks to Pye for sending the images and info, go check out his excellent blog!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Jake Lynch - Dredd Alert!

Congratulations to new(ish) artdroid and friend of the 2000AD Messageboard, Jake Lynch for landing his first cover for the mighty Prog! Over at the Multiversity Comics website, Jake takes us through the creation of this Jarjaz cover, sharing his inks, design sketches and the odd interesting tip. It's a cracking read!

"Drokk! I've left the iron on!"

You may well recognise Jake's style as he has contributed a fair bit to the Prog. He got his break with this stunning star scan in the prestigious 35th birthday issue, Prog 1771, which also happened to be his first ever entry to the 2000AD art comp, more on that later...

Judge, Jury, Executioner, Grumpy Bastard.

Following this Jake, cut his teeth on the obligatory Future Shock (Pro 1862), as well as providing fantastically dark art for Tales of the Black Museum in Meg 348, Orlok for the Summer Special and, of course, the recent Sinister Dexter tale, Congo.

However, before he was assimilated as an official artdroid, Jake contributed to Zarjaz and Dogbreath, providing, amongst other things, this rather wonderful cover for Dogbreath 26:

Mr Creosote had eaten too much spaghetti again.

As mentioned previously, Jake first came to my attention with his dazzling 'Movie Poster' entry to the 2000AD message board art competition, shown above. Going under the name of JTPegg (that's Jake Tiberius Pegg, not to be confused with Rolf Harris' creation of course!) he absolutely walked the first compo then continued to blow our socks off with each subsequent entry. Here are a selection of some of my favourites, firstly, what Dredd did in his Summer holidays...

Dredd in Bognor City 2
Followed by what an unfortunate cit did in his visit to MC-1. What a fantastic study of a Pat Wagon! 

"Pat? Paaaat? Why did you leave me gal?"

Dredd gets shirty in a no camera zone...
"Get that drokking camera out of my face!"

The epitome of cool with this wonderful Pineapples drawing...
Joe showed off his blowing-a-balloon-up-using-his-farts trick again.
A salmon leap from Slaine!

You've got red on you.
And this brilliant Dredd pin up, which I just love, Drokk indeed!

Rico nearly finds Joe in the cupboard during a game of hide and seek

Finally, here's my all time favourite image by Jake, a beautiful trio of Christmas Angels for the 2000AD Advent Calendar. Amazing!

"No one harks less'n I says they can!"
You can see the process behind most of these pictures on Jake's old site here (in the Re-Education section) and it's well worth checking out his Deviantart page too!
So hat's off to Mr Lynch, it's always great when one of the 2000AD faithful make it. Here's to loads more from his talented droid in our prog!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

INJ Culbard - "We're gonna need a bigger boat!"

Oh dear, I hope that Sabrefin has had a breath mint! INJ is back with another perfectly composed cover which is simultaneously sweet and terrifying as the crew of the Nominal Charge continue their mission in 'The Deeps!' 

An easy one this, according to Mr Culbard, he says "The brief was pretty clear and straight forward. Giant, razor toothed angler fish, Wren and Sept stood in the foreground with their backs to us, holding hands." Oh yes, easy, a giant angler fish, that old chestnut!

Below is Ian's first attempt at a rough...

Say "Aaaaaaaaaaaagh!" 

He continues, "The roughs were really just a question of scale, because everything was very much an 'exactly-what-you-see-on-the-tin' response"

Wren couldn't help but think that Sept had rushed into buying their new house... 

And here's the final image all inked up and coloured, fantastic!

The Harry Ramsden's challenge was getting out of hand... 

And finally the prig as it looks on your shelf, lovely interaction between the logo and the lighting on the image.

Perhaps Sept's choice of venue for the second date was a bit off...

Thanks again to Ian for sending the flotsam and jetsam for this mightily impressive cover. Remember, Brass Sun os currently being collected in American sized reprints and are very highly recommended!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Colin MacNeil - Weturn of the Mac(Neil)

Prog 1892 sees the 'welcome' weturn... sorry return of Walter the Wobot thanks to the dream team of John Wagner and Colin MacNeil. 'One Night in Sylvia Plath' allows us to catch up on the odd couple of Walter the Wobot and Mrs Gunderson since the events of Chaos Day.

John Wagner has created some absolutely classic comic characters in his illustrious career, he also created Walter the Wobot. The droid began life as a service droid in the Grand Hall of Justice before being assigned to Judge Dredd as a house robot during the Robot War of 2099. He has plagued the lawman's career ever since, though was assigned to look after eldster Mrs Gunderson following the Doomsday Scenario of 2121.

Below are Walter's blue prints, nice to see he has a fully functioning pleasure circuit (16) and a hoover attachment, the long winter nights must fly. Good to see tape recorders (5) have survived into the 22nd century, I'll hang on to my old Spectrum 48k games a bit longer...  

What if Judges Did Ads?
(Artwork by Kev O'Neill)

Pah! Look at Walter's tiny little pleasure circuits!
Over to Colin to tell us more about his thoughts behind this weeks' striking cover image "I thought the cover design should be quite bold, so it would stand out on the shelves, rather than just doing a nice drawing. The job of a cover is meant to be noticed after all!"
"I was asked by Tharg to do a Walter cover, as he hadn't appeared on the cover for yonks! By making the cover image more graphic than pictorial, it allowed me to get all the main characters on it. With Walter "drinking" a beer in the opening page of the story, I thought it'd be a good way to include Judge Death if his image was on the beer that Walter had. Mrs G peering out of the bottom part of the image with a big grin on her face just seemed like a thing Mrs G would do. I really enjoyed drawing Mrs G..."

And it certainly is a very strong, eye-catching image. Below is Colin's rough... 

Viz's first ever trible 'Up the Arse Corner.'

Followed by his trademark bold blacks. Colin's artistic style has seen significant change in recent years, from more delicate line work of old to strong, clean lines and imposing blocks of colour.

Perfect wenderwing by MacNeil

Next the finished cover without the background colour...

24 hour party people?

And finally the finished image.

The conga in full swing...

Colin is synonymous with lush painted artwork as seen in classics such as America, Mechanismo, Total War, Song of the Surfer and the first two books of Insurrection. However, in 2010, he had his first crack at digital colouring. The commission was for the poster for Hi-Ex 2010, a much missed comic convention in the beautiful city of Inverness. Colin produced the artwork below (which is proudly owned by Mr Pete Wells) which was the first thing he coloured digitally. Not too shabby eh?  
Colin adds "All done with a mouse too! In fact, everything has been done with a mouse, I haven't got round to getting one of those tablet thingys yet!" Amazing!

Ro-Ro-Ro-Jaws, gently down the Loch.

The coloured version was kindly sent by Richmond Clements, so a huuuuge thank you to him!

In his retirement, Joe allowed himself the odd smile...
Colin's first printed digital comic artwork was the cover of the erm zarjaz Zarjaz 14 which featured everyone's favourite camp vamp, Devlin Waugh... 

I only count seven tentacles there, I hate to think where number eight is...

Day of the Tentacle!
Closely followed by the cover of Dr Who fanzine, Dr WTF, for which Colin says "I really enjoyed drawing this. I'd never drawn anything Dr Who-ey before, it made a nice change from my usual stuff!"

She's got the whole world, in her hands!

Colin has been a longtime supporter of The Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design who run a fantastic course on Comic At and Graphic Novels! Colin is an ex-student of the art school and, along with legends such as Cam Kennedy, Ian Kennedy and Dave Gibbons, will sometimes share his work and expertise with the (lucky) students.

The luckiest students in the world!

Each year the students showcase their work in an anthology graphic novel, Colin provided the cover for the first. For an article about this, see http://2000adcovers.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/colin-macneil-anthology-one.html 
Colin adds "I won't send you a picture of me as a student, it'd freak some people out. I had hair on my head but not on my face :)" Luckily, I scoured the internet for a picture of Colin in his student days and found this one from his appearance on University Challenge...

 "MacNeil, Scumbag College!"
The artist continues "Another enjoyable, different project for me. This image is just stuffed full of meaning on the idea of the "artist" and their inspiration."

Students have come a long way since the unwashed oiks of my day...

Jean demonstrates the latest Wacom Hover-Tab

On to the epic Insurrection, the Warhammer inspired saga which saw some of Colin's most incredible work. Below we see his sketch for the cover of Megazine 334 which was digitally inked and coloured by the awesome Mr Neil Roberts. 
Colin says "The idea for this cover was taken from classic war time propaganda, Insurrection was a war story after all. I've always admired propaganda images from World War 2 in particular. They're bold, dynamic and full of emotive imagery. It doesn't matter whether they were British, American, Russian or German, good design is good design!"

Viva la Revolucion!

Bloody troublemakers!

Next we have an exclusive glimpse of some of Colin's abandoned ideas for the cover, firstly this gorgeous illustration of one of the doomed grunts - sob! 

Planet of the Ape

Next a marvellous bit of propaganda for the Colonial Marshall's Dept... join today! Colin adds "This was an early idea for my take on the classic propaganda poster. It provided the idea for the final cover design ie. all coming together, human, uplift and robot to fight for a common future type of thing."

Thugs, the lot of 'em!

Or how about this fleet of Zhind ships? "I suppose this is another propaganda-esque image, this time showing the threat."

I best stick the kettle on then.

And here is Colin's process behind the final, heartbreaking cover for Insurrection on Meg 342. Below, we see Colin's rough's as one of the Insurrectionists salutes his (many) fallen comrades, a modern classic...
"I knew this was to be the last cover for Insurrection so wanted something appropriate to the story. Where there was a propaganda image for the beginning of the final series, I wanted a reality of war type image for the end. Something definitely not propaganda. A final salute to the characters we had followed across the series, which indeed gave me the final idea for the final cover design. It's literally a salute to the fallen. It's also in a sense, a salute to the reader for following the series - a final bow before exiting the stage." Lovely sentiments there. I'm certain Insurrection is universally viewed as one of the best strips the Meg has ever published, it was a pleasure to follow.

"Ooooh me head. What did I drink last night?"

Here's that cover inked - the composition, the thick, black smoke and dangerous looking razor wire are amazing and that sad, oil-stained robot adds to the power of this incredible image.

Who knew Colin MacNeil was a Little Mix fan?

Here is a mock up of the cover...

I'm sure they could have covered the logo more, just to annoy certain people!

Followed by the astoundingly well coloured, final image. Colin has a keen interest in the military (as we'll see later in this post) as his knowledge and passion is certainly evident on this outstanding cover...

Sign... just beautiful.

And finally for this section, Colin's contribution to this years' convention booklet for the Glasgow Comic Con - lovely. Colin explains "This years theme was stolen moments and since I had been watching the Captain America movie the idea flowed fairly easily. The Captain takes a few minutes our from battling Nazis to have a coke and a read of his superman comic, just like any other GI in late 1944." 
When you've gotta go, you gotta go!

Colin is very gracious and is always ready to chat (and drink) with fans. He can occasionally be found on the 2000AD message board and will often very kindly contribute to the annual Adent Calendar thread. Here are his previous digital entries, firstly, the rather brilliant four dark Santa's of the Nativity. I think I notice something new every time I look at this...

Well, at least there's no sprouts

And secondly the Three Kings which is cute beyond words!

The birth of Tharg

As mentioned previously, Colin has a keen interest in military history and has strong ties to several Scottish Military Museums. He recently produced a series of illustrations and a fab comic for The Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen. 

The museum has a character for children called Bydandy, a young Drummer Boy with the Gordon Highlanders. Using his father's magical bagpipes, Bydandy travels through time, learning about the contributions made in various wars by the Gordon Highlanders.
"Yes, I've always been interested in military history and was absolutely thrilled to be asked to draw Bydandy for the Gordons. It was a dream project for me. Any other regimental museums out there fancy some pics, give me a call, I'll sort you out! :) "

Little drummer erm... boy?

Below we see Bydandy in the Highland Division of the Gordon Highlanders in WW2...
That's S-P-A-D-E to you!

Wot no war?

Here's Bydandy in the Boer War, ready to serve with Captain Towse...
Towse about that then?

And Bydandy in camouflage - if you look hard you might just see him!
Whistle do nicely!

It would be remiss of me if I didn't show off... I mean share my awesome commission I got from Colin back in 2011. I'm a huge, huge fan of his Mechanismo Mk1 designs so asked for Dredd battling a Mechanismo robot. What I actually got was, quote, "Dredd battling a horde of decommissioned Mechanismo robots who have somehow reactivated to get revenge. A scrap in a scrapyard if you will..."

Colin said "I think this drawing is one of the best Dredd's I've ever done, ever. I'm still very proud of it."

Below are the pencils - just look at the work and energy that has gone into those - astounding!

A rumble at the Pete Wells Mech Wreck Yard!

And the awesome finished piece. I saw this before the Zarjaz cover or Strange and Darke (his first 2000AD related strip to see really the style change) and remember being blown away - such a radical departure yet still recognisably MacNeil! I feel very, very honoured to have this...

If you look closely you see spot Robert from America, a lawmaster and a very well hidden Heavy Metal Kid...

I'll end with one of Colin's career highlights - yes he painted America, provided beautiful work for the first ever Dredd/Alpha meeting, killed Chopper, offed Johnny Alpha and resurrected the Dark Judges but we all know when Colin looks back on his distinguished career, the page below will always be his very favourite...

The greatest page in 2000AD history!

Of course, Colin agrees, he says "I'd agree, those Commando Forces blockers are just great ain't they? :D " Hey, wait a minute!!! All that nice stuff I said about him above, just forget it, he's talentless hack! On a serious note, that page was a complete surprise and was a really lovely gesture. When I approached Colin about buying the page he wouldn't take any money, instead he asked me to split what I would pay between two military museums in Scotland. See? He can be nice!  
Absolutely gigantic thanks to Colin who, as ever, has been an absolute gentleman. This article has gone back and forth between us and he's scoured old computers and hard drives to find content for which I am eternally grateful. If you've enjoyed this look at his work, why not buy him a drink next time you see him at a convention...?